Man allegedly responsible for a third of your spam e-mail arraigned
December 3rd, 2010
11:09 PM ET

Man allegedly responsible for a third of your spam e-mail arraigned

[Updated at 11:00 p.m.] Oleg Nikolaenko, a Russian man the FBI believes has been responsible for one-third of the spam in your inbox, pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court in Wisconsin.


[Posted at 10:20 a.m.] A Russian man the FBI believes has been responsible for one-third of the spam you get in your inbox is scheduled to be arraigned in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, court Monday.

According to court documents and FBI affidavits, researchers began tracking down the "Mega-D" spam automated botnet as a prime source of selling counterfeit goods, and the mastermind of it all is Oleg Nikolaenko.

"'Mega-D" was likely the largest botnet in the world, accounting for 32% of all spam," the court documents said. "Security researchers estimated that the botnet was capable of sending ten billion spam email messages a day.”

The documents show the scope of the counterfeit ring and the authorities' attempts to track down Nikolaenko.

A glimpse into how much Nikolaenko's operation may have made can be seen in court documents that allege that he received a payment of  $459,098.47 between June 4 and December 5, 2007, resulting from e-mails for those peddling everything from advertised erectile dysfunction drugs, other counterfeit prescriptions, "herbal remedies" and even fake Rolex watches.

A break in finding the alleged mastermind was one of those watches. The path to Nikolaenko began when a seller of counterfeit Rolexes told authorities after he was arrested that he paid more than $2 million working with spammers to sell his product. He gave them information that resulted in a trail of information that led officials across several continents, to different e-mail addresses and websites and, eventually, back to Nikolaenko.

FBI agents and the Federal Trade Commission had been monitoring him since at least 2007, according to documents. That included two trips to the U.S. last year. And their big nab came when he went to Las Vegas, Nevada, for an auto show. He was arrested on November 4.

Christopher Van Wagner, Nikolaenko's lawyer, could not be reached immediately for comment. But he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that so far, the charges against his client are only accusations.

"We're prepared to present a rigorous defense," he said.

Post by:
Filed under: Crime • Russia • Technology • Wisconsin
soundoff (498 Responses)
  1. mine

    I don't normally advocate the death penalty, but. . .

    December 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Seamus Wardowski

    Personally, I'm a big fan of Viagra and Cialis both, as an avid recreational user, and I even have a fake's them Princes in Nigeria that really get my goat though...:)

    December 3, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hugh

    He should be hanged, or yoked up in public square.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Funny

    I say he's put in jail with a laptop that only goes to his email address. He is then sent his own spam E-mails and is required to read each and every one of them. And only fed spam.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike in GA

      ... all the while listening to 'It's a Small World", and having to reply to e-mails to find the link to stop playing it. Oh, and only every fourth one or so actually works....for the fantastically low price of 99 cents each!

      December 3, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jorge

    They should give us his email address... we'll treat it responsibly.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Wow

    Wow, I'm not even mad. I'm just impressed. How does he think of all that creative stuff?

    December 3, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ethan

    feed him real spam for rest of his life.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. tom

    Hire the dude to spam China.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. BBQPork

    Death penalty. Stone him.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. No Kidding

    So I don't really have one milion dollars coming to me from a diplomat in Nigeria? Ohh mannnn!

    December 3, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jim

    I would beat him with a baseball bat till his brains came out his ears. And then I would get MAD!

    December 3, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. joe

    how do I get his job? So much better than what I do now.

    December 3, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Delmar Knudson

    I don't think his sentence should be too harsh. I would say one month in the penitentiary for each spam email would be O.K.

    December 3, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mike

    Now if only they could find the person(s) that makes the NetFlix advertisement pop-up on every freakin PC I use with pop-up blockers enabled. And if someone could fine NetFlix for paying these jerks it would be great.

    December 3, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sam

    Regardless if this guy is guilty or not, if people wised up and didn't click on links, fall for scams, telemarketing, etc (choose your evil of the day), MOST if not all would go away. Then there would be no need to run a botnet like this because there would be no money in it. But putting this one guy away won't make a lot of difference anytime soon.

    December 3, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19